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Old 03-07-2013, 10:13 AM   #1
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


My ICF sub has suggested a HVAC engineer for the load calcs. This person is supposedly familiar with ICF building and the tightness of said structure. The engineer will do a manual J, size the system, and design the duct work necessary, for a fee of $600. This person is independent of any HVAC company so he's not selling equipment. Does this seem like a fair price? Too high? Too low? I am willing to pay a fair price for this work.

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Old 03-07-2013, 12:44 PM   #2
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


From what I've seen on this forum most good installers will calculate the load and include it in their price for the install. However, if the "engineer" will guarantee his work, in writing, to be accurate in every aspect of the application. i.e., you will end up with evenly distributed temperatures and adequate air flows throughout for both heating and cooling then it may be worth every cent. Suggest you talk to at least 3 HVAC reps to see which one shows they know what they are doing. Also check their references.

I was present during 3 presentations for a friend and the third guy blew the first two out of thew water with his obvious knowledge of all facets of a properly sized and installed system including duct work sizing. AND Lo and Behold! He was the least expensive by $700. The system has been in since last November. No issues.

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Old 03-07-2013, 01:28 PM   #3
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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My ICF sub has suggested a HVAC engineer for the load calcs. This person is supposedly familiar with ICF building and the tightness of said structure. The engineer will do a manual J, size the system, and design the duct work necessary, for a fee of $600. This person is independent of any HVAC company so he's not selling equipment. Does this seem like a fair price? Too high? Too low? I am willing to pay a fair price for this work.
It's hard to say, labor rates vary in different area's, plus the size and layout of the building can make a big difference on how long the calculations take to do. I know typically on a normal sized house it takes me an hour or two to make all the necessary measurements & draw the house. Then another hour or so entering all the information into the computer. I don't typically do duct design, but using our program it only takes about an hour or two to design the ductwork.

But looking at that you're in about 3-5 hours. Depending on where you're at labor rates being $100 an hour isn't out of the ordinary (some areas may be higher than that) so assuming the longer end at $100 an hour $600 doesn't seem to be too out of line. And that's on a normal sized house, if you're doing a larger building it may take longer.
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:52 PM   #4
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


You still lookin for another "fair price" like the quotes on hvac? .


After being in this industry, I would NEVER use some engineer's duct design, unless he came to the house when it was built and made sure what he put on paper would freakin' work. Same goes for architects...

Last edited by Technow; 03-07-2013 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


600 is an ok amount. Depends a lot on the size of the house.

Many HVAC companies will fudge their load calc on ICF and spray foamed houses, because they are afraid they'll be under sized, and they don't really understand how tight and well insulated the home is.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:15 PM   #6
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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You still lookin for another "fair price" like the quotes on hvac? .


After being in this industry, I would NEVER use some engineer's duct design, unless he came to the house when it was built and made sure what he put on paper would freakin' work. Same goes for architects...

Now, now - touched nerve did I? No I was told by my ICF sub that he recommends this guy as he knows ICF houses with foam insulation and could calc accordingly. I don't want 'rules of thumb' or whatever and an awful lot of you HVAC pros have complained about the majority of the guys who come in and do just that. I was simply inquiring as to if this was a reasonable price for a professional service.

As far as engineers or architects - I'm not sure I'd accept some AC guy coming to my house, looking around and then telling me what I needed without the proper calcs. At least this way I own the calcs and can shop appropriately without stepping on someone toes.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:20 PM   #7
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


No nerves here

Here's a hypothetical question:

If you found a cheaper guy for $300 What would you do?
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:40 PM   #8
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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No nerves here

Here's a hypothetical question:

If you found a cheaper guy for $300 What would you do?
Go with the guy my trusted sub recommended. I want the AC sized correctly.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:51 PM   #9
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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Go with the guy my trusted sub recommended. I want the AC sized correctly.
Good answer
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:56 PM   #10
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


Hope you are having a properly sized HRV calc'd and installed as well
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:05 PM   #11
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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Hope you are having a properly sized HRV calc'd and installed as well
Agree too and that should be in the calcs. those houses are very tight and with a small unit that doesn't move a lot of circulation.

Also, had one ICF house years ago I was brought in to fix a bonus room. The main body of the house was tight and well insulated....but his wife had a craft room over a garage (on a one story house) that had a high heat loss. the main unit never ran enough to cool that room. Not hard to see why.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:24 PM   #12
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


When I retired about 10 years ago it was common to see a charge of $150 to $250 just for the "J".I would say that your quote is about right.Remember that a properly done home will give youn room to room comfort and save you big on energy costs for 20 years.
Most contractors still won't do the "S" because they don't understand the idea behind it and the person that taught them didn't know either.Of course without these things being done you are left with contractors that don't understand there is a differance between giving the furnace enought return air to operate properly and giving each room enough return to make it comfortable.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:58 PM   #13
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Fair Fee for Manual J, S, D?


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Hope you are having a properly sized HRV calc'd and installed as well

Thanks for the tip - I will be sure to address this with the engineer.

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